Boston Marathon Blasts Kill 3
BOSTON — Two powerful bombs exploded near the finish line of theBoston Marathon on Monday afternoon, killing at least three people, including a child, and injuring at least 100 as one of this city’s most cherished rites of spring was transformed from a scene of cheers and sweaty triumph to one of screams, bloody carnage and death.
About three-quarters of the 23,000 runners who participated in the race had already crossed the finish line when a bomb that had apparently been placed in a garbage can exploded in a haze of smoke amid a crowd of spectators on Boylston Street, just off Copley Square in the heart of the city. It was around 2:50 p.m., more than four hours after the race had started, officials said. Within seconds, another bomb exploded several hundred feet away.
Pandemonium erupted as panicked runners and spectators scattered, and rescue workers rushed in to care for the injured, some of whom had lost their legs in the blast, witnesses said. The reverberations were felt far outside the city, with officials in Washington heightening security on public transit and shutting down streets near the White House. Pennsylvania Avenue was cordoned off by the Secret Service in what one official described as “an abundance of caution.”
In New York, the Police Department said it was stepping up security at hotels and other prominent locations in the city until more is learned about the explosion.
“The first one went off, I thought it was a big celebratory thing, and I just kept going,” recalled Jarrett Sylvester, 26, a marathon runner from East Boston, who said it sounded like a cannon blast. “And then the second one went off, and I saw debris fly in the air. And I realized it was a bomb at that point. And I just took off and ran in the complete opposite direction.”
In the chaotic hours after the explosions, according to a person briefed on preliminary developments in the investigation late Monday afternoon, there were reports of three unexploded devices. Police officials said at least one was detonated in a controlled explosion.
At their final briefing Monday night, officials said that the F.B.I. had taken over the investigation. Richard DesLauriers, the special agent in charge of the Boston office, called it “a criminal investigation that is a potential terrorist investigation.” But they offered no information on what they had found or what they were investigating except to say that they were bringing “very substantial federal resources” to bear.
It was unclear Monday evening who might be responsible for the blast. Although investigators confirmed that they were speaking to a Saudi citizen, several law enforcement officials took pains to note that no one was being held in custody.
While the authorities have not arrested the Saudi man, he has remained at a hospital under close supervision by law enforcement authorities, according to a senior law enforcement official.
By nightfall, the authorities were acting on the belief that there had only been two explosive devices. As a precaution, the authorities had blown up several bags — which they believed were likely left by marathon runners — that were on the streets near the attacks.
The explosive devices used in the attacks on Monday were similar in size to the device used in the 1996 attack at the Centennial Olympic Park Bombing in Atlanta but were not nearly as large as the one used in the 1995 attack in Oklahoma City. In the Atlanta attack, a pipe bomb was detonated near pedestrians, killing two and injuring more than 100 — similar numbers to Monday’s attack.
The attack in Oklahoma City was far larger because the perpetrator used a truck packed with thousands of pounds of explosives. The device killed more than 150 people.
The attack on Monday occurred in areas that had been largely cleared of vehicles for the marathon. Without vehicles to pack explosives into, the perpetrators would have been forced to rely on much smaller devices.